Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Of Ogres, Orcs, and Beowulf (A Repost)

In honor of the release of Honor Among Orcs, I'm reposting some of my "Orc Romance: In Progress" posts from those days in 2012 when I first began writing it -- with my early thoughts on what makes an orc, and those creatures which seem to have influenced our ideas of them. Here's the second!

Stories of beowulf grendelThese Beowulf illustrations predate Lord of the Rings by a couple of years, though not Tolkien. In fact, with a publication date of 1908, I almost wonder if Tolkien read this particular edition.

Fangs instead of tusks, but fearsome and very Uruk-hai in style, all the same. Even if Tolkien wasn't influenced by this depiction, it seems to capture the essence of the beast. I'm not sure I subscribe to Grendel as an Ogre, myself. I've always thought of him as more dragon-like, but since he's not all that well-described (and I am known for ignoring description anyway) it could just as easily be a me thing, than anything grounded in fact or literature.

Stories of Beowulf water witch trying to stab beowulfBut look also at the image of Grendel's mother in the same book. Green skin, blue-black hair, a long ugly nose. If anything, she's even more orc-like than Grendel, complete with rippling muscles.

We know that Tolkien was studying Beowulf -- and in fact he was one of the first to study it seriously for more than just the evolution of language. Looking at images like this, I can't imagine how the ogre isn't the father of the Orc -- or at the very least, the father of our perceptions of what makes an Orc. It's obvious that as a culture, we were already imagining them in 1908.

And if you're interested in another reimagining of orcs as we know them, be sure to check out HONOR AMONG ORCS, where Tolkien meets Beauty and the Beast! 

Kindle | Paperback | Nook
After nearly a decade as the king’s whipping-girl, Princess Arianna has no intention of going quietly into marriage to some treasonous noble, or serving obediently as the king’s spy until her death is more convenient. When she discovers a handsome orc, chained and trapped inside a magic mirror, Arianna cannot help but see a lasting freedom from her father's abuse.

Left to rot inside a mirror by the king, Bolthorn never imagined his prayers would be answered by a princess. Nor did he ever expect to meet so worthy a woman after knowing her father’s cruelty. He needs her help to escape the mirror before the king marches against the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is ice and darkness in exchange for her aid.

If Arianna can free the monster behind the glass, perhaps she might free herself, as well. But once they cross the mountain, there will be no return, and the deadly winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side. 


  1. I always imagined Ghrendle as a troll. Or a very large goblin.

    Honor Among Orcs looks good.

    1. Thanks Donna!

      I think I just imagined him dragon-like because of the dragon that appears later in the story. In my head, they all kind of blend together into a related trio.

  2. pretty nice blog, following :)


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